Kent Obee TOPS Letter to the editor

Kent Obee TOPS letter to the editor

From: Kent Obee
Sent: Mar 16, 2023
Subject: Letter to the Editor: Ballot Issue 1 — the TOPS Extension

I have been a TOPS supporter from the beginning of the program in 1997 and strongly believe TOPS is one of the best things Colorado Springs has done for itself in this past quarter of a century. I also have served for two terms on both the TOPS Working Committee and Parks Advisory Board and as Chair of both bodies.

It was thus all the more painful when a year-and-a-half ago I decided I couldn’t support the 2C ballot issue doubling and extending the TOPS tax.  Despite the doubling of the tax, the open space account (and for many of us the heart of the program) was actually reduced and almost all safeguards on the use of TOPS funds were eliminated.  The measure’s authors basically tried to turn TOPS into a giant slush fund to compensate for “Great Recession” cuts to the Parks Department’s general fund budget that have never been fully restored.

This time the City is wisely going for a simple extension of the existing .1 percent tax.  There are minor tweaks allowing for more expanded use of monies in the trails and open space accounts, but these are more than compensated for by the added safeguard requirement that a minimum of 75% of the open space account must be used for the acquisition of open space land.  Many of us in the “advocacy” camp were pleasantly surprised (and grateful) when Mayor Suthers and a unanimous City Council agreed to this safeguard.  It is one we have no guarantee we could get in another two years (TOPS expires in 2025) with a different mayor and council.  Let’s take the bird in the hand and vote “yes” for Issue 1 — the TOPS extension.

Kent Obee

Colorado Springs, CO 80906